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Pacific Center for Health Policy and Ethics

About Pacific Center

At a time when developments in medical technology are creating moral and ethical challenges in health care at an ever increasing rate, the Pacific Center for Health Policy and Ethics is addressing some of the most critical and complex bioethical issues facing our society. Among these are patients' control over dying, new reproductive technologies including surrogate motherhood, human gene therapy and use of presymptomatic genetic screening, equitable access to health care, and ethical issues in managed care.

The Pacific Center-created in 1991 jointly by the USC Law and the USC Keck School of Medicine-brings an interdisciplinary as well as inter-institutional perspective to the study of ethical problems and health policy development. Recognizing that important issues in health care and research require the broadest possible discussion, the Pacific Center brings together experts form a wide range of fields at USC with representatives from healthcare providers, consumer groups, government, insurers, and other ethics centers.

The Pacific Center's work is enhanced by its location at the University of Southern California. This urban institution has many connections to the multiethnic community of Los Angeles, including close association with several hospitals that serve both indigent and private patients. This combination of diverse populations and hospital settings offers the Pacific Center a unique opportunity to examine the health policy choices that Americans of all cultural backgrounds make or would like to make, given adequate resources.


Two Men Talking

Two Men Talking

4 pm, Monday, September 19, 2016
Mayer Auditorium
USC Health Sciences Campus

As part of the Medical Humanities, Arts, and Ethics Series, which engages core health issues in society today, we will present Two Men Talking, a storytelling event that looks at HIV/AIDS, homophobia, racism, and identity. Created by Academy Award–nominated filmmaker Murray Nossel and psychiatrist Paul Browde, Two Men Talking makes space for difficult and transformative stories to be told and heard. Nossel and Browde met as twelve-year-olds in South Africa and were estranged for years after a bullying episode. When they met again in New York many years later, they began trying to make sense of the incident that pushed them apart and of “growing up white, Jewish, gay, and privileged under apartheid.” They have spent the last two decades mining their past for stories, and together founded Narativ Inc., a company whose mission is “a world connected through listening and telling personal stories.”

Two Men Talking combines elements of theatre, therapy, and real life to emphasize the profound relationship between listening and telling. The captivating event illuminates how every interaction is a co-creation, and how our stories connect us all.

Reception in the Hoyt Gallery will follow the presentation.

Admission is free. Reservations required. RSVP (beginning Thursday, August 25) as follows:


Roz Chast

When We Have to Talk about Something Less Pleasant: Aging, Alzheimer’s, and the End of Life
A Lecture by Cartoonist Roz Chast

4 pm, Thursday, March 30, 2017
Mayer Auditorium
USC Health Sciences Campus

Our aging population has raised many ethical dilemmas and policy choices for society. Those involving loss of memory and decisionmaking capacity are among the most personally difficult and legally complex. As part of the Medical Humanities, Arts, and Ethics Series, which engages core health issues in society today, cartoonist Roz Chast will share her story of coping with the loss of her parents and the everyday realities of Alzheimer’s disease—a story she tells with courageous honesty in the gut-wrenching and darkly humorous graphic memoir Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? Chast’s cartoons appear in major magazines including The New Yorker and Scientific American. Her memoir—which garnered an Eisner Award, the Kirkus Prize, and a National Book Award nomination—masterfully combines cartoons, text, and photographs to challenge readers’ perceptions of death and dementia as well as their assumptions about what topics are appropriate for comics. Chast also highlights the roles of health professionals and caregivers at the end of life.

A reception in the Hoyt Gallery will follow the lecture.

Admission is free. Reservations requested. RSVP beginning Friday, March 3, at 9 a.m. Please check back to RSVP.


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Music and Medicine: Experiments and Explorations

4 p.m., Thursday, March 31, 2016
Mayer Auditorium
Health Sciences Campus

How does music affect the human brain? Find out, and experience a wonderful demonstration of the power and beauty of music, on March 31st, when the Pacific Center joins with the Keck School of Medicine’s Program in Medical Humanities, Arts, and Ethics, and the USC Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics in presenting Music and Medicine: Experiments and Explorations, on the Health Sciences Campus.

The moderator for this multidisciplinary event will be Berislav Zlokovic, a classically trained tenor who is the director of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute and a leader in Alzheimer’s disease research whom Thomson Reuters has listed among “the world’s most influential scientific minds.,” Participants will include Marcus Raichle, a world-renowned neurologist and university professor at Washington University in St. Louis; Alison Balbag, award-winning harpist and PhD candidate in the USC Davis School of Gerontology; and Christopher Snowdy, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at USC. Also taking part will be concert pianist Zora Mihailovich and singers from LA Opera who participated in the “Music and Memories” program in which they performed for individuals affected by dementia. The event is part of USC’s Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative program. Admission is free but reservations are requested. A reception will follow in the Hoyt Gallery. For more information, please visit the V&V website or contact the program at (213) 740-0483.


The Wounded Warrior: Outside the Wire’s "Theater of War" Presents a Dramatic Reading of Scenes from Sophocles’s Ajax

Medical Humanities, Arts, and Ethics Series * Visions & Voices Event

4 p.m., Thursday, September 24, 2015
Mayer Auditorium
Health Sciences Campus
Information and RSVP (tickets are free)


The Amyglada and the Stethoscope: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine

Lecture by leading physician-commentator Dr. Danielle Ofri, September 22, 2014

New York Times columnist Danielle Ofri, MD, will speak about "The Amyglada and the Stethoscope: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine," a USC Visions and Voices lecture co-sponsored by the Pacific Center on September 22, 2014, at 11:30 a.m. In Mayer Auditorium on the USC Health Sciences Campus. Admission is free; reservations are requested (visionsandvoices.usc.edu). Book signing and refreshments will follow.


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